The Line.04.23.12

The Line. 04.23.12
The Good. The Bad. The Shorthorn.

The Best Thing in the Paper: Today’s best things in the paper weren’t in the paper at all! Ben Ohene and Erika Dupree’s photo galleries covering The Big Event and the Block Party were great uses of the photos. I love the galleries because they showcase good work (the photos are crisp, have clear focal points and provide different perspectives for the events). These types of events are about getting photos of people doing things – both galleries showed more than expected. Ditto on the reader-submitted photo gallery for The Big Event. This is an excellent example that people want to share their photos – The Shorthorn can be the hub for that. Good job getting that together.

Best Headline: “UTA hopes time off/pays off for SLC title” immediately tells the reader the news and significance of the upcoming tournament in a clear, concise manner. Nice job.

Best Use of Reader Comments: The Opinion Page did a good job rounding up comments on two hot topics trending on our site. Better, each comment had full identification of each student. Good job.

Nice tries … but need tweaks:
– I’m very glad The Shorthorn had several angles on The Big Event. It indicated staff understood the importance of this event to campus groups. However, the coverage overall missed some key reporting: the package would have benefited from having a short overall story reporting the total number of volunteers (so many, we find out, that some areas shipped students to other locations – that’s a good story!). At the least, each story needed to include that basic information in a nut graph. Don’t forget the basics. Ditto on the main headline in that package; from a design and information standpoint, the headline doesn’t accurately reflect the package as a whole, as the weight indicates.
– The reporting in the strategic planning story netted some interesting comments on diversity. Those comments needed to be front and center in the story; as written, they are buried under a summary lede and a process-heavy second paragraph. Remember what we said in Friday’s staff meeting – listen to your sources. Here, Martinez, Lamas and Harris point out that LGBT employees have issues at UTA … which would have provided a clear, specific way to show a tangible need for strategic planning. It’s also an angle or story we haven’t read before. That the meeting happened isn’t the news; it’s the people and what was said. Listen.
– An extended cutline isn’t a story; it’s a cutline. Please don’t label cutlines stories. Making it larger or using design tweaks to highlight the information doesn’t change that. The cutline on Page 2 missed basic information: the number of UTA volunteers, how much was raised, and other basic information. Don’t forget the basics.
–  Nice pullout on Lance Day on the Sports page … but who named him Player of the Weekend? Remember that we report the news, we don’t create it. It was a nice a entry point on the page.
– Need updated crime information in the crime box; reporting Friday on Monday is OK, but only if we also have Saturday and Sunday. At the least, the items need to contain more information.
Overall: Today’s paper showed Shorthorn staffers know where students were this weekend, and that’s good. Editors and staffers need to be sure they provide a good story mix for readers, especially on Mondays. Mondays give you a chance to grab the reader with a mix of coverage, especially strong reporting. Mondays are a chance to show readers what The Shorthorn can provide that is different than the enewsletters, the fliers, and more they see all the time. Today’s paper covered this weekend well … but didn’t go beyond the basics. Nine of the 10 stories and briefs in today’s paper covered activities that took place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Taylor’s golf advance previewed a coming tournament.) Don’t forget about story mix. Some days, news will dictate much event coverage (like today). Knowing that, be sure that the coverage itself goes beyond basic description of an event. As Krista Torralva mentioned in Friday’s staff meeting, “The event is the news peg; the people are the story.”

Onward,
BFC

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